Paul Maxwell

1964 – 1979

In the decades of the Troubles, no matter which side you were on or might find yourself aligned with even now, one thing is true, and that is innocents suffered and died in many different ways. Wars are fought supposedly by adults to gain just ends, but always in a war the innocent suffer. The Troubles saw many children killed brutally on both sides. One has only to bring to mind 13 year old Brian Stewart, murdered with a plastic bullet fired by members of the British army’s King’s Own Scottish Borders and little 14 year old Julie Livingstone, who went out to the shops on a family errand and came home in a coffin, killed by a British army plastic bullet.

These are but two children cut down in their youth and many know who they are, yet there are many more. Recently I received a comment on a story in the archives concerning another child, Paul Maxwell, often forgotten or mentioned in passing; yet to his family, he was their child and their joy. The 30th anniversary of his death is this month. He was not some soldier sent off to do battle in a cause of his choosing. He was a young Irish teenager working as a boatboy and died in the IRA bombing of Lord Mountbatten.

The comment I received was written by Paul Maxwell’s mother, Mary Hornsey. In the years following her son’s death, she found expression for her grief in composing poems about her son and her feelings concerning his life and death. She eventually created a website in memorium to Paul and to others like him. Mr and Mrs Hornsey have been kind enough to engage in an email correspondence with me, and I asked if they would like to have a post made concerning Paul so that others who have gone through sorrows such as their might find some comfort in Mary Hornsey’s poetry. Also, I feel it is important to keep the names and faces and circumstances of such losses in mind so that in history they do not become just another statistic. When you put a human face on suffering, it becomes more understandable and hopefully, eventually preventable.

The following are some notes Mrs Hornsey sent me about her son. Mr Hornsey included a photograph as well. The website with Mary’s poems is here: Paul Maxwell – In Memoriam – Mullaghmore 1979

Mary writes:

“Paul, along with his two sisters, Donna (17) and Lisa (12), had spent many of his summer holidays in our holiday cottage ‘Little Acre’ in Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo.

He was a pupil at Portora Royal School, where he played rugby and re-started the darts club. He was a friendly, kind and gentle lad with friends from both sides of the community. Ailen Gore-Booth (deceased) of Lissadel House suggested him as boatboy for Earl Mountbatten.

After the tragedy, the main outlet I had for my grief was the written word, hence the poems, written at various times in the years following the tragedy. Each poem had a different source of inspiration – ‘The Ghost Ship’ was seen as a vision in a dream, whilst ‘Boy on a Train’ came to my mind in a carriage full of happy schoolboys. I would like to add that Paul’s sisters, Donna and Lisa, were greatly marred by the tragic event. One cannot paint over grief; it will always be there, sometimes more diluted than at others.

I hope that many will visit the site, read the poems and ponder. It is dedicated not only to my son’s memory but to all children everywhere who have suffered as a result of man’s inhumanity. May we have peace and love in our hearts.”